NSBE - Convention 2018 - 47

CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT

Albemarle NSBE Jr. Chapter
Finds a Willing Partner in UVA
B y K e vi n M. Br is co e

F

or five weeks during the summer, students from Albemarle
High School and Burley Middle
School spend four half-days at the
University of Virginia (UVA), exploring
various fields of engineering. The teens
and pre-teens make up the Albemarle
County Public School System NSBE Jr.
Chapter, in Charlottesville, Va. Focused
on such areas as robotics, computer
science and automotive and aerospace
engineering, they get to operate high-tech
equipment and work with UVA engineering students and faculty who mentor
them and spur along their interest in
STEM. They also receive supplementary
instruction in language arts, marketing
and math.
"(This program) provides a new gateway into science, technology, engineering and math for underrepresented
students," says John Fitzgerald Gates,
Ph.D., the associate dean and engineering chief diversity officer who oversees
the on-campus activities at UVA. "Our
expectation is that students will go on
to succeed and to apply to UVA's school

www.nsbe.org

weekly for 2-1/2 hours with 15 members
of the NSBE Jr. chapter at Burley Middle
(grades 6-8).
"The NSBE chapter (at UVA) goes the
extra mile in helping to ensure that we
network with graduating (high school)
students who aspire to attend college,
work and beyond," says Sherica JonesLewis, Ed.D., an assistant principal in the
Albemarle County Public Schools. "NSBE
has the unique ability to take students
from populations underrepresented in
the fields of (STEM) and ensure that they
have the opportunity to gain
confidence in these areas."
"This program shows the kids
how to relate and communicate
with each other to make their
projects work," says Early. "They
get to see the visual, to see their
commitment to the work actually
of engineering and other
functioning. These kids are awe(engineering) schools to fill Pearl Early, Founder and
Advisor, Albemarle County
some, great minds. Engineering
the gap in the pipeline."
Public School System NSBE
is the main tool to make them
The UVA-Albemarle
Jr. Chapter
feel good about themselves."
County partnership is
She added that building this
the brainchild of Pearl
confidence and interest in STEM fields is
Early, a student support specialist in
her job as an educator.
the Albemarle County Public Schools.
"Every educator who has their head
After spending much of her 35 years in
in the right place has to understand their
early childhood education, particularly in
role and responsibilities," Early says. "You
special education and sign language, she
want the students to go beyond the walls
recognized a void that needed filling.
of the school they come into. Your job is
"In the Albemarle school system,
to see that they get there. I make sure the
technology was not something that blacks
students know these opportunities exist
were encouraged to be involved in," says
and go after them." ■
Early, who goes by "Ms. Pearl." "I was
haunted by what I didn't see."
After a conversation with her son-inlaw, who was a NSBE member at Norfolk
State University, she sought out the NSBE
chapter at UVA, which she said was "welcoming every step of the way."
In addition to the summer program,
members of the UVA NSBE Chapter
meet weekly for 2-1/2 hours with 15
members of the NSBE Jr. chapter at
Albemarle High (grades 9-12) and once
| CONVENTION 2018 | 47


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